Dec 23 2010

Joanelle Romero – Michael’s gal pal from Gardner St. Elementary

Category: Friends,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 6:40 pm

On this site, you’ve seen posts about Gardner Street Elementary, whose auditorium once again proudly bears the name ‘Michael Jackson Auditorium‘, and you’ve seen a piece called “The Socio-political Message in ‘Black or White’” (namely, the video along with the panther dance sequence).

Joanelle Romero, Sage and Michael

Joanelle Romero, Sage and Michael

Now, here is one person who ties both of these stories together.

Joanelle Romero went to school with Michael at Gardner St. Elementary and he even asked her to go steady with him on the steps of the school before she was unceremoniously whisked off to live in New Mexico with her dad, ending their pre-teen romance. But that wasn’t the end of their story . . .

SOURCE: http://twitpic.com/2zhie9

On June 25th 2009, I was packing and moving out of a house we had lived in for 6 years and an acquaintance phoned me and said Michael Jackson is dead, turn on the TV.I dropped the phone, turned on the television and there it all was, I fainted, no one was home with me. I woke and cried and cried and I am still crying. My heart is so broken; you see Michael was a friend and he believed in me. I’ve known Michael since I was 10 years old, we went to school together at Gardner Street school off of Sunset Blvd, we were in the 6th grade together. I was always invited to go to his house to play, he would swing me in this big tree swing and we would speak of our dreams. Michael asked me to go steady on the steps of Gardener Street school. Two weeks before school ended my mother sent me to live with my dad in NM. I never got to say goodbye to Michael.

One week before Michael left this earth, my son and I were shopping at Nordstrom’s, and we run into Jermaine. I asked him to please tell Michael I needed to see him, that I needed to visit, that it was important and I gave him my new numbers. God works in mysterious ways.

In 1991, I launched my production company, it was 2 weeks old when I received a call from Michaels casting office, asking if I had any American Indian dancers because everyone he had been interviewing wasn’t right. I told them “I have the best dancers in town” I really had no one, however I went to many Pow wows and gathered 30 dancers, one of them being my precious daughter Sage. She was 5 then. Michaels casting office had no idea that Michael and I knew each other. To make a long story short. Director John Landis, cast 5 dancers, my daughter – who was the jingle dress dancer, and four other dancers from the native community here in Los Angeles that I brought in that day.

Michael shot 7 hours of photos of Sage while shooting his video and used her image for his painted angels in his Neverland ranch. We had so much fun while filming. Michael, Sage and I watched “Willie Wonka” 3 times while everybody had to wait on set. Michael took Sage and Nancy Reagan to lunch, he had asked if I wanted to go however I declined for obvious reasons. Many stories to remember …..

We had shot the segment of the native dancers in the studio, then Michael read one of my music video scripts and one week later we were on location re-shooting the native segment out-side. Due to Michael’s insight, he added my production company and shared the press in Entertainment Weekly.

Michael became the leading force in making my company known to the world. It is now an award-winning production company in producing American Indian documentaries and independent films. The 1991 “Black or White” music video and song made history. I was able to negotiate for the American Indian dancers to be paid over and above any dancers on any music video ever, due to the fact they were traditionally dressed (the wardrobe did not come from western costume). To date, they are the highest paid dancers in the music video industry. Also, this segment was the first clip of American Indian dancers in a music video without being a Native American music group/artist.

Michael and Sage

Michael and Sage

On our opening night of our 2009 Red Nation Film Festival – A Night of Tribute Awards, we honored Michael Jackson for his “Black or White” Music Video – In Loving Memory of Michael Jackson. I have many personal stories about Michael and that I will keep in my heart forever. I am not going to spend my life being a color, I am a Human Being
– God Bless You MJ
Together we can Heal the world make it a better place.
…..We Love You Michael ……..

-Joanelle Romero

Raven of AllForLoveBlog tells us more about the Jingle Dress dance (Thank you Raven!):

Thank you for this story. I had been thinking about this little girl for some time (I’m a Jingle Dress dancer, too; have been for many years). I didn’t know her name so I feared it might be a long, drawn out process to try to locate her. For those who don’t know the story behind the Jingle Dress or the dance, I would like to share it here. I am sure Sage or Joanelle at some point may have shared the story with Michael (perhaps; perhaps not). But anyway, it’s a story he would have appreciated. The Jingle Dress is a sacred, healing dance that began among the Chippewa and Ojibwa people. A little girl was very, very sick (most likely appendicitis because she held the side of her stomach. But at the time, there was no way to know the cause of her ailment). Her father was very troubled because he couldn’t help his daughter, and he knew she would die soon. So he went to bed and prayed to be shown a way to heal her. In his dream, he was given a vision of his daughter wearing a dress of cone jingles that sounded like the breaking of ice, and performing a dance of very intrictae footwork. He was instructed exactly how to make the dress.

Different tribes have different versions of the making of the first Jingle Dress. But the story I was taught, and that I believe is closest to the original, is that the father made the dress himself. Anyway it is my favorite version of the story because I love the idea of this very devoted father and warrior actually taking the time to sew a little girl’s dress, and to make sure every cone was arranged as according to his dream. As he sewed, he cried many tears and prayed over each tiny jingle.

When the dress was completed, the little girl wore it and danced the dance. At first, she was very slow and clumsy and held her side because she was in pain (that is why to this day, most Jingle Dress dancers keep one hand on their hip throughout the dance). But as she danced, the pain gradually went away and soon she was healed. That is a true story among the Chippewa, and the little girl lived to be an old woman who was greatly revered.

It’s really a beautuiful story of a father’s love, devotion, and faith. I can’t help but think of Michael’s own relationship with his daughter as I retell the story.

Here’s a link where you can see a couple of ladies actually performing The Jingle Dress dance. In the Black or White video, Sage doesn’t really get to perform the dance. She is just doing what we call an Intertribal step. But this is how the dance would have looked when she actually performs it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZaF1EuDOK0 .

Michael and Sage

Michael and Sage

Joanelle Romero with drum, balloons, and MJ T-Shirt

Joanelle Romero with drum, balloons, and MJ T-Shirt

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20 Responses to “Joanelle Romero – Michael’s gal pal from Gardner St. Elementary”

  1. SandyK says:

    Seven, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful memory of Michael from Joanelle. I wish she could share more but I very much respect her need to keep those memories in her heart forever. God bless her…:-)

  2. melinda says:

    May the dear friends of michael jackson always keep sharing their stories to keep him alive in their hearts forever =)

  3. Max says:

    Michael was such a beautiful man. What a face, suffused by pure love. Not a phony cell in his body. How can they not see? He was so easy to read. He never blocked himself off. That took courage. He will prevail.

  4. Monica says:

    Michael touched innumerable lives in the most beautiful and positive ways. I am sure we will continue to hear of these connections for years beyond ours. We must ask ourselves… what kind of person has this effect/affect on others?…and so, so many connections! Michael truly loved people, as he told us. It seems each and every person with whom he connected can recollect something wonderful, powerful and far reaching. I am astounded by how many people he made better emotionally, spiritually and even physically, simply by being “Michael”. Ms. Romero is a truly fortunate person to have this connection with Michael; probably one of her most cherished memories of her entire life.

  5. Mado says:

    Thank you for this wonderful article.God Bless you Joanelle. Michael rest in Peace, I will love you forever and ever.

  6. carina for mjj says:

    Seven, again thank you for an exquisite photo and story.

  7. Raven says:

    Thank you for this story. I had been thinking about this little girl for some time (I’m a Jingle Dress dancer, too; have been for many years). I didn’t know her name so I feared it might be a long, drawn out process to try to locate her. For those who don’t know the story behind the Jingle Dress or the dance, I would like to share it here. I am sure Sage or Joanelle at some point may have shared the story with Michael (perhaps; perhaps not). But anyway, it’s a story he would have appreciated. The Jingle Dress is a sacred, healing dance that began among the Chippewa and Ojibwa people. A little girl was very, very sick (most likely appendicitis because she held the side of her stomach. But at the time, there was no way to know the cause of her ailment). Her father was very troubled because he couldn’t help his daughter, and he knew she would die soon. So he went to bed and prayed to be shown a way to heal her. In his dream, he was given a vision of his daughter wearing a dress of cone jingles that sounded like the breaking of ice, and performing a dance of very intrictae footwork. He was instructed exactly how to make the dress.

    Different tribes have different versions of the making of the first Jingle Dress. But the story I was taught, and that I believe is closest to the original, is that the father made the dress himself. Anyway it is my favorite version of the story because I love the idea of this very devoted father and warrior actually taking the time to sew a little girl’s dress, and to make sure every cone was arranged as according to his dream. As he sewed, he cried many tears and prayed over each tiny jingle.

    When the dress was completed, the little girl wore it and danced the dance. At first, she was very slow and clumsy and held her side because she was in pain (that is why to this day, most Jingle Dress dancers keep one hand on their hip throughout the dance). But as she danced, the pain gradually went away and soon she was healed. That is a true story among the Chippewa, and the little girl lived to be an old woman who was greatly revered.

    It’s really a beautuiful story of a father’s love, devotion, and faith. I can’t help but think of Michael’s own relationship with his daughter as I retell the story.

  8. Raven says:

    Here’s a link where you can see a couple of ladies actually performing The Jingle Dress dance. In the Black or White video, Sage doesn’t really get to perform the dance. She is just doing what we call an Intertribal step. But this is how the dance would have looked when she actually performs it:

  9. Seven says:

    @Raven,

    Thank you SO MUCH for adding this background to the story about the Jingle Dress dance! I wondered what that was exactly. Blessings to you and best wishes for a GREAT holiday! -Seven

  10. Saskia says:

    So many lovely friends of Michael come forward. Lets hope these stories never end. And I thank you Joanelle for sharing this, but also for keeping many stories private. We don’t need to know everything 🙂

  11. Susan T says:

    Precious story!

    Thank you, Seven, Raven, and especially Joanelle and Sage!

    Native American culture is deeply spiritual. I have no doubt that part of Michael’s wisdom and vision sprung from his Native American heritage. In some ways I view him as a modern-day Black Elk when it comes to recognizing the importance of having reverence for the Earth and all its gifts. I found this interesting description on Wikipedia. The first paragraph was particularly intriguing because it mentions a “great tree”. Michael’s great tree was that magnificent oak he called his “Giving Tree” at Neverland.

    “Black Elk said that several times during his life, he had several visions in which he learned things that would help his people. In his “great vision”, at the age of nine, he said he met the spirit that guided the universe and saw a great tree that symbolized the life of the earth and of the Indian people.[2] He did not speak of this to anyone until he was much older, but his family apparently understood he was clairvoyant after his supposed “illness”. [3]

    We are only beginning to discover just how powerfully spiritual Michael Jackson is. Thankfully, he is absent only in body. His spirit is growing stronger every day!

    Thank you, Seven, for your heartfelt dedication and love for Michael. I visit your site often and have been so uplifted and inspired beautiful writings and outpourings of love for him.

    May you have a blessed Christmas and may we all be gifted with divine power to continue to uplift and restore honor to Michael in the new year. Our work continues and its all for L.O.V.E.

    Love, Peace and Light!

  12. Jeanne says:

    Thank you Seven for sharing this story. I saw the dance and it was like the feet did not touch the ground. Like an angel. Weightless. Beautiful.

  13. Sandyk says:

    Raven, thank you for sharing that beautiful story!!! Also, thank you to Seven, Joanelle and Sage….:-)

  14. carina for mjj says:

    Michael with little Sage looks like pure bliss.The most sweet and charming photo ever.
    And again some good sprang forth from Michaels connection with Joanelle; Michael became the leading force in making her company successful and winning awards.

  15. Seven says:

    Thank you Johanna! I’ve added a couple of those. Wonderful!

  16. sam says:

    Thankyou Joanelle and Sage

    You are so Blessed to have been a part of a Wonderful chapter in this Beautiful mans life.What a Beautiful photo of the three of you.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful story xo

  17. Diane J says:

    Goose bumps were rising as I read this awesome story! Michael touched so many people lives in such a positive way and he always reached out to help move others forward in their business ventures. He was a beautiful man whose heart-beat for humanity. Seven thank you for sharing this diamond of a story, from the treasure-chest of Michael’s life.

  18. Liane says:

    This story was so damn beautiful. Im in tears, tears! He was sooooo special in so many ways. The world has no clue. The pictures of them together is so precious and cute. I just miss him dearly. Maybe one day she will share more stories but I do respect her privacy about him.

  19. carina for mjj says:

    Thank you so much! What a coincidence that Joanelle run into Jeremy one week before
    Michael left this earth.She asked Jeremy to let Michael know she needed to see him.
    How tragic that this meeting did not come to be.That would have helped him tremenduously to convert his thoughts from the awfully stressful situation he was in.
    Somehow I believe her presence would have mattered and changed the course of events.I think she would have had that effect on him ,to look at his existence in a
    deeper and broader sense.
    If you happen to read this, Joanelle, I am so sorry you lost your friend,just as it is a loss to the world and many people.

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